Laura talks with Carson, whose change in relationship status sparks a cross-country move. Then, Laura hears from unlucky-in-love Albert, who wonders if it makes sense to re-establish himself somewhere other than his longtime hometown to find what he’s looking for, relationship-wise. For advice, Laura taps Bill Chopik, associate psychology professor and director of Michigan State University’s Close Relationships Lab. Here’s a link:

Finally, Laura meets up with Margo, who lives in the big rig she drives cross-country for her career. Margo loves her life behind the wheel but is starting to think that for her personal life as well as dog Xander’s well-being, it might be time to come off the road.  

Carson had no plans to move, but then her husband died.


Margo, with dog Xander, lived in the big rig she drove for a living.



You know the expression, “Bloom where you’re planted”? One interpretation is to make the most of life no matter where we happen to live. And the older we get, and the longer we stay in one place, our roots can go really deep. So does it ever make sense to pull up those roots and relocate? “Making Moves” — that’s what we’re talking about on this episode of “Dating While Gray: The Grown-Up’s Guide to Love, Sex, and Relationships. I’m Laura Stassi. 

We’ve heard a lot about the pandemic causing people to pack up their bags and leave big cities, college towns, pricey apartments. But according to the latest census figures, permanent moves were historically low. During the first year of the pandemic, only about 6 percent of all people 30 and older changed their address. And that figure drops even lower when looking only at people 50 and older. It seems the older we get, the more interested we are in aging in place. That’s what Carson thought she would be doing with her husband, Tom.

CARSON: 01:16

No, I think we were pretty content with Denver. You know, we did traveling from there. We had a daughter that had lived in England for five years. And we made lots of trips to England from there. Denver was a great place to fly out of, you know, a lot of direct flights to lots of places. And we had two grandsons there who were going into their teen years. And so we were just enjoying family life and really had no plans to do anything different.


You know, some couples as they get older, and they get together and the kids leave, they downsize. But with no plans to move. You know, they still like their area, but they think, “Oh, this house is too big for both of us.” Or maybe there’s a, you know, stairs — and they don’t want stairs.

CARSON: 02:01

Well, we lived in a pretty large, two-story home that also had a finished basement. And when we had moved to Denver, we had decided we wanted a house like that, because we wanted it to be like a family gathering space. So when his boys came from Wyoming, or when my daughter came back from England, you know, people would have a place to stay. So we were happy with that arrangement, and — because we were both still physically active and able to handle stairs. You know, we were good with that, you know, had no plans to change anything.


Carson is now 69. And she and Tom were married for 23 years. They met through common social circles when they were both living in the Midwest. Carson was divorced after a 20-year marriage and Tom, about a decade older, was a widower. They fell in love, got married, moved to Florida. And they lived there for about eight years, then came Denver.

Life together was good. But then Tom, who had always been very active, developed a pain in his hip.


CARSON: After doing more tests, they basically found out that he had a large metastatic tumor in the bone of his hip.


CARSON: They’re like, well, we have to do a surgery right away to put a pin in and stabilize that so we can figure out you know, what your treatment plan is going to be. So it’s a little bit of a longer story but basically, he went in to have this pin placed. And he had a code on the operating table and died. So we went from like, a week earlier thinking we didn’t even think he had cancer or recurrence of cancer to a week later, where he was dead and gone –really, really out of the blue kind of thing.


I’m so sorry, how tragic.

CARSON: 03:49

And because it was so unexpected, you know, it’s like everybody gathered all at once, like all the children came from everywhere. My youngest daughter had recently moved to North Carolina, and his boys came from Jackson Hole and I thought, you know, this is a good time to have the kids help me with starting some of the cleaning out process in that like, you know, whatever the boys wanted of Tom’s I was like, “Please take it.” You know, he had bicycles, he had tools in the garage. 

We basically went through everything. We got all his clothing out and I said “Is there anything anybody wants, then you get this.” And so that that cleaning out process started just kind of naturally because everybody was there and could take things home with them. And after the funeral was over and everybody had left, I noticed that that felt good to me. I know for some people, it’s really hard to let go of things. But for me, it was easier to go in the closet and not have Tom’s clothing there, you know and not have all his reminders, the reminders of him. 

So I just started, you know, donating, giving things away. It felt kind of like a cleansing process. And I thought, you know, what the heck, I think I’ll just put this big house on the market. I’m gonna see what happens. If it sells, I’ll take that like, as a sign that I’m supposed to do something new and different. And if it doesn’t sell, I’ll just stay put and figure out plan B.

 So I, I put the house on the market with a friend who was a realtor, and a good friend of mine. And I came to North Carolina to visit my daughter. And the first weekend the house was on the market, I got an offer. The only catch was, the people wanted possession of the house in six weeks. So suddenly it’s like, well, I’m going to be homeless. I’m like, you know, I was doing some of this thinking, you know, probably in reverse rather than being proactive. But I rented a house in Denver for six months; I found a little cottage over in your Wash Park.


Did it feel like it was happening too soon? Or were you just like, okay, fresh start: Here I come.

CARSON: 06:03

I think it was more like, fresh start: Here I come.  I enjoyed having a project, I enjoyed having something to look forward to. Tom and I had moved around quite a bit, and we enjoyed that process of finding a new house, you know, furnishing it, and starting over. And so it felt really natural, just to step into that again. 


CARSON: I ended up building a house in North Carolina. My daughter lived in a fairly new neighborhood, and they were still building. And so I bought a lot and picked a floor plan, and built the house.


So did you make this decision when you were still in the rental, that “I’m going to leave and go cross country”? Was that — I assume you had support systems in place, and in Denver? Are you had friends and activities. Did you have any hesitations about giving that up?

CARSON: 06:57

Yes, a little bit. But I sort of boiled it down to a formula. For me, I’m like, “What do I have in Denver that I could re-create someplace else?” And it kind of boiled down to, I like to be physically active, I had a gym with a close circle of friends. I had a group of women that I painted with in watercolor, took classes. And some of these key ingredients that kept me going kept me happy. And I thought, “I can do all that in North Carolina; it’ll just be with other people.”


And your daughter was living there.

CARSON: 07:28

My daughter was here. During the pandemic, at least the worst part of the pandemic, that was my bubble. You know, it was myself living alone. And then my daughter a few blocks away, and her kids. My daughter and her husband welcomed me with open arms, but I really respected their privacy and their space. And her husband made it clear pretty early on, like, you know, please text before you stop by, you know, kind of thing.

We established some boundaries, and we stick to those. It’s, it’s not like I hang out with them all the time. They supported me and I was able to support them a little bit too, because she was homeschooling — her kindergarten daughter was doing remote learning. And then she had like the 4-year-old there also. And of course, her husband started working from home. So a really difficult year.


It was really difficult to make any new connections during the pandemic.

CARSON: 08:24

Yeah, it was very hard, very hard. And so that was sort of a big psychological adjustment for me, because here I thought I was launching a new life. And instead, I was launching a lot of time at home alone in my house. So I think that made the grieving process harder. I think it sort of prolonged it.


So I know it’s hard to predict the future…

CARSON: 08:55



Yeah, well, (laughter) I said hard. But do you think about five years out maybe or 10 years out?

CARSON: 09:05

I’m pretty comfortable where I am. And unless I had a change in my health, you know, and I  was forced to do something different., I would anticipate staying put for the next five or 10 years. I hope that over time, I just become more comfortable with living in this new location and that I, you know, I become a little more courageous about getting out and exploring things on my own. 

LAURA STASSI: Do you have any regrets? 

CARSON: Nothing that I had control over. I regret that I moved right at the beginning of a pandemic. But no, I don’t.  I — I still am kind of in love with the idea of a fresh start and a new beginning. A lot of people you know, say that you shouldn’t make those big decisions and make big changes within like, you know, a year of your spouse dying. But for me, it felt right. And I think ultimately, that’s what you have to do is what feels right for you. And I really don’t have any regrets. I haven’t second-guessed myself. I mean, occasionally I’ll be like, “Well, I wonder if I should have stayed in Denver?” But then it’s like, “No, it’s not what you did. And this is where you are.” And I’m, I’m really pretty good with it.


I love hearing that. That’s really comforting, I think, and encouraging to people to know that, that we can even in these later years of our lives, make some pretty significant changes, and it not break us. And I think there’s also the idea that we can always go back. It’s not too late if we decide, okay, this doesn’t feel right. Okay, let’s go a different direction.

CARSON: 10:45

You can always make another decision, you know, and — or sometimes, life makes those decisions for you. You know, like, if I had a big change in my health or something that, you know, maybe this wouldn’t be the right place for me. Maybe I would end up back in Denver, and in, you know, assisted living or something like that. But for now, you know, life is good, and I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing.


Carson told me she started dating. And she’s keeping her options open by looking not only in North Carolina, but also in Denver, where her other two kids live. And I really liked what she said about always being able to make another decision. I think not accepting that sometimes prevents us from making any decision at all. 

So what happens when you love where you live, but you don’t have romantic love where you live, and you also don’t have grown kids or a job location to provide a sense of direction? We’ll explore that, after the break. 


LAURA STASSI: We first met Albert in Season 2. He was living in Portland platonically with his friend Annelise.


Just completely easy. It reminds me of kind of growing up with my family, the ease of — you know, it’s interesting, because when you look at ads for places to live, oftentimes, there’s like some, you know, nervousness like, “Oh, you’re going to be sharing a bathroom with someone.” And I find that sharing a bathroom with Annelise is like, super easy.


Albert has never been married, has no kids. And he’s a solo entrepreneur, so he can basically work from anywhere. Recently, he sent me a voicemail.


Hi, Laura. Well, here’s a question for you. When is it time to potentially leave the city that you live in to look for love, or start figuring out ways to find people who live in other cities? I have been living in Portland for a long time, and I’m really just not finding anyone.


I wanted to talk to an expert about this. So I contacted Bill Chopik. He’s an associate psychology professor and director of Michigan State University’s Close Relationships Lab. They study how people and their connections change over time. I asked Bill if looking for love is ever a good reason to move.


It’s not the worst motivation. So you know, people move for all sorts of reasons. They move for work, they move to be closer to family. And you know, it’s not the most ridiculous thing to think you might, say, move to a new city to have more options. 


BILL CHOPIK: People looking for love, just like him — I will say, if you — it’s your only motivation, that’s a little dangerous. Because you can imagine where you move to a new place, maybe you struggle. It’s hard to date at all, anywhere, at any point in life. So I think hitching everything about your happiness and your life on finding love at this new destination, that’s a little dangerous. So hopefully, if he’s thinking about moving to a new place, there’s other things that might also draw him. So I’m hoping it wouldn’t be the only thing driving him to a new place.


What are some factors that older people should consider, and are they different than what younger people should consider?


Well, there’s a few universals, right? So in order to date someone, you have to do things that expose you to meet other people. That’s a prerequisite, right? You need to literally be around and talk to other people to start dating. So you know, that might be on a dating site, that might be going to public events. Certain things in your community, getting set up through friends, you know. A lot of the same ways that young people find dates, older adults do as well. I will say, there are a few differences, though. So although he has a really flexible life, it sounds like — no kids, job seems pretty mobile, not a lot of considerations keeping him somewhere. That’s not the same of other people he might want to date. 

So they might have children or grandchildren. They might be in the process of exiting a relationship, like getting divorced, you know. On paper, if he keeps doing the same things, that bodes well for him. But then I think having a little bit of compassion for the fact that the people he might date might come from all different walks of life, and they might have all sorts of different personal arrangements. And I think you have to go in willing to accept that. And that’s, that’s something that maybe 18-year-olds don’t really think about. But if he’s 60, moving to a new place, he might have to.


So it sounds like you’re saying, be open-minded about who you might encounter. But are there specific, I guess factors as far as how to choose a place to live? Like, should he be thinking about tax breaks? Or should he be thinking about population pools? I mean, what, are there any like, general guidelines?


The most prominent things he should consider are, are there opportunities to meet people? So if indeed, he is really only moving for someone to date, if that’s the only reason he cares about — he doesn’t care about the weather, he doesn’t care about the tax benefits, he doesn’t care about the mortgage, he doesn’t care about the pizza there. You know, if it’s really just about meeting somebody, he should prioritize places that have those opportunities. 

So are there a lot of, say, community events going on? Is it a really lively city? Does it have a huge older adult population, if he’d like to date someone else around his age. Now, maybe there are some places where when it’s the wintertime, you can’t go outside, and it’s hard to meet people. There are other places where you can do outdoor events in the cold. So that’s another thing to consider as well. So as much as he can expose himself to people socially, that’s maybe the criteria he should be choosing. But I think he probably couldn’t go wrong, where a city that’s growing, city that has high population, larger, older adult community if he wants to date older adults, and looking for community. So as there — are a lot of people that and there’s stuff to do, those are probably the two things that should guide him.


Yeah, stuff to do. Yeah, I was thinking, um, you know, I’m just curious, because so my kids are launched, but I know where they’re probably going to end up. And so I personally would like to be near my kids — because not only my kids, but any potential grandkids. But if you don’t have that as a factor, I’m wondering if somebody should try to find the person first. And then like, if you go online, and just do move anywhere, and then base a move on who you meet, rather than pick a place, and then try to find people in that place. Does one make more sense than the other? 


Yeah. I mean, across all the studies that we’ve done, and then people in the field have done, the number one predictor of people getting together is if you’re in their geographic area. So online dating is somewhat changing that – like, you could start a relationship with someone on the other side of the country. But really, it’s so much easier if they’re in your local social sphere. You know, one thing is that when people find a good fit, they can kind of be happy anywhere. So like, I’m from the Midwest and one consistent thing — I get a little insulted when I read these papers, and when I do the research, is they really do paint Midwesterners as like really conventional; like, way more conservative. Like, they don’t take huge risks. I guess it’s not a bad quality. But I think whenever people find a fit with their environment, it usually goes well. 


Yeah, you know, it’s funny, because this conversation reminds me of that saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.” And it’s like, you really do have to be comfortable and content with who you are and what — you know, before you even think about a change of scenery, I guess, or if a change of scenery would actually be the answer. as opposed to just a quick tonic or …


Another way of saying that is, “You pack yourself.” It’s the same exact way. 

LAURA STASSI: Oh, I like that. 

BILL CHOPIK: Yeah, you bring all of your insecurities, your past tendencies, your behavior, who you are as a person. Yeah, like you say, you are who you are there. 


BILL CHOPIK: You are the same person. You’re just in a different city. And that’s why I try to recommend prioritizing stuff that might make you happy or make — makes a good fit with you. Because at the end of the day, you’re still you and just in a different location. Like I said, that doesn’t necessarily make it easier today.


We will have links to some of Bill’s research in the next Dating While Gray e-newsletter. You can sign up for it on As for Albert, he’s still living with Annelise in Portland, and he’s trying something new to find love. He created a page on his business website. It’s kind of like an e-personal ad, and he directs people to it from his personal Facebook page. 

Albert describes himself, has a couple of photos, and also details what he’s looking for in a romantic partner. You must be a people person, for example, and a music lover. But you can’t have an interest in professional sports beyond occasionally watching with family members. Good luck, Albert. 

Here’s another expression for you. “Home is where the heart is.” It means having an emotional connection to a place. 


LAURA STASSI: Hi, Margo. How you doing? 

MARGO: I’m fine. How are you? 


LAURA STASSI: For Margo, her home and her heart are on the highway. 


LAURA STASSI: Where are we?

MARGO: 21:20

We are at a truck stop in Maryland, where I park my truck and I take time off.



Margo 60, and she spent the past dozen years as a long-haul truck driver.


MARGO: 21:35

Okay, this is where I live. I drive an 18-wheeler. This has always been my dream truck. I love life on the road, I really do. I have a refrigerator. Storage – this is where I put my clothes. And this is where I sleep. Me and my dog. I’m glistening a little bit because it’s hot in here.



Margot’s dog, Xander, keeps her company in her home-slash-business on wheels.

MARGO: 22:09

A typical week is every day when I get up, of course, I take care of myself. And then I move on to work while I feed the kid. Take him out, then work starts, I do my inspection. If I have to fuel, I get my fuel. Ten times out of 10, I’ve spent the night at a truck stop. So I’ll eat breakfast. Or I have instant oatmeal. Yes. I love it. I have a microwave ,and I have a refrigerator on my tractor. I get up, do my inspection, fuel if I have to. And then I start my day because I already have a plan, a load plan. And I’m probably just starting that load. Or I’m finishing up a load. And then I deliver, wait for the next load to come in. And I do that every day.


So you have a certain number of hours that you are allowed to drive, and then you have a certain number of hours that you must rest. 

MARGO: Mm-hmm. 

LAURA STASSI: And you also have a deadline for where you need to be, from point A to point B. 

MARGO: Yes. 

LAURA STASSI: That’s crazy. And I’m speaking to you from a place in Maryland. And you came from where?

MARGO: I came from Pennsylvania.

LAURA STASSI: Pennsylvania. That’s not so bad –Pennsylvania, Maryland. But before that, where were you?

MARGO: 23:33

I was in North Carolina.

LAURA STASSI: North Carolina. 

MARGO: Yeah, this company. They stay basically in like, a regional area until I have to go away. Like my next load, I’m going to San Antonio, Texas. So — and then I come back so that I’ll probably take four days. Yeah, so that’s almost a week.


Yeah. And so you are sleeping, eating — your truck is your home on Wheels. 

MARGO: 24:05

Yes. Okay, my RV.


Do you have a routine? Like when you say take care of yourself, do you –even though you’re working you’re probably not going to see anybody do you like to put on makeup and do your hair and — or is it just get in the road and get going? Are you able to exercise? I mean, tell me about taking care of yourself.

MARGO: 24:22

I can do all of that. When I take a 34-hour reset, that’s after I’ve run out of my 70 hours for the week. I’ve eight days and 70 hours in those eight days. I could take a 34-hour reset or work on a recap. I’m on a 34 right now. I wouldn’t get my hair done. I only wear makeup when I’m down. It’s too much trouble while I’m running. 

I have gotten my hair done in four different states and I have four different hair techs. I get my nails done in six states. That’s where I go. I know they do a great job. And that’s where I go. So I consider myself low maintenance. But the thing is with my hands, my grandmother always told me a lady has nice hands. So I get my nails done when they get too long. I get them cut. My feet — I get those done, everything. Uh huh. Everything. 

LAURA STASSI: Are you able to exercise? 

MARGO: Yes. Yes. A lot of truck steps now have fitness centers. Yes, yes. So not only can I get clean, because that’s where I take my showers. Yeah, I can also go into their fitness centers.


So have you ever worried about your safety? I mean, I know you have this beautiful but kind of scary looking dog. But do you ever worry about your safety, being a woman on the road?

MARGO: 25:56

No, no. I do I have Xander, can’t have a gun. Because that’s against the law for commercial drivers to carry a gun. So I have Xander. Xander gets up out of bed if he hears something. So that gives me time to get ready. If I have to pull out, I’ll pull out. You know, if I have to move, you know, I’ll move quickly. But I don’t worry about my safety. I’m a — me as a woman, I’ll pay for parking space. Because when you reserve a parking space, nine times out of 10 you’re in a well-lit area. Because I cannot take Xander into the restaurant with me and then walk out with him. So I’m in a well-lit area. And there’s public all around. So I feel fine with that. You know, folks say “Why do you pay for a parking space?” Because I need to be safe?


Sure. Yeah. So if you didn’t, it would just be catch as catch can and might even be full, right?

MARGO: 26:56

Sometimes. And a lot of times because I stop at night. Sometimes when I stop at 6 o’clock at night, the lots are already full. And if I’m at a point to where I only have an hour left, and there are no other truck stops around — that’s why trip plan. 

And Eric used to love that. I told him, “Just drive the truck. That’s all you have to do. As far as trip planning — where we’re going to, where we’re going to stop and switch, where we’re going to eat — I got that.”


Eric was Margot’s partner in every sense of the word. They were a driving team, and husband and wife, for about five years.

MARGO: 27:37

Oh, he was the greatest truck driver ever. This man has driven more miles backwards than I have forward. He taught me how not to stress over the little things.


And tell me briefly how you met him.

MARGO: 27:51

I met Eric when I went to go buy my first truck. And we talked to each other for about six months. And I bought his contract from a company and put him on my truck. 

LAURA STASSI: So that you could be together. 

MARGO: Yes. In the beginning, he had an apartment. And we would stay at the apartment whenever we went through his home. And we stayed in the truck most of the time, unless we had home time where we would take off time. We went to the Bahamas twice. And we lived in Miami and in a house.


What was it like living with him in the truck as opposed to living with him somewhere else?

MARGO: 28:35

Both times were great. I just couldn’t sleep without the truck moving or me hearing trucks on the outside. So he found an app to where it was the sound of trucks. And I would go to sleep when we were off the road.


And I think you told me sometimes he would drive and you would sleep, and then you would take turns so that you could get your miles. 

MARGO: Yes, yeah, yeah. 

LAURA STASSI: Okay, that’s awesome. And tell me about, if you don’t mind, what happened with Eric.

MARGO: 29:00

Eric died from COVID. He was at one of his best friend’s house. We took home time for him to take me to a football game. Well, he had a sniffle and a cough and it just got worse. Then he gave it to me. And I said, “Honey, you think we have the crud?” That’s what we call it in Texas. “You think we have the crud?” He said, “No, we don’t have the crud.” So we decided to go ahead and get tested. Yeah, we had the crud. So he left, and I’m still here.


Yeah. How old was he when he died? 

MARGO: Fifty-nine.

LAURA STASSI: So young. That’s so sad. I’m sorry.

MARGO: 29:43

Thank you. I ran solo by myself. It was just me and Xander. And the money got cut because I wasn’t getting as many hours — I mean, miles with two people. So I ended up losing my truck, and I had to go work for a company. And here’s where I am now. But I’m ready to come off the road. It’s no more fun without Eric. Oh, yeah.

LAURA STASSI: I’m sorry.

MARGO: I’m fine with living in my truck. It’s just that I’m by myself. Xander talks every now and again. But Xander sleeps where Daddy used to sleep. So he’s been a constant companion. Eric is on the truck. I have his ashes. He’s on the truck, so he’s with me.


Do you have — have you given yourself a timeline for when you want to come off the road? 

MARGO: Yes, before the winter, I am going to run local so I can go home every day. Being here at my sister’s house — Xander went to the to the sliding door out to the deck. And I’m like, you know, it’s the little things that people take for granted, that are a big deal to me. And I’m like, wow, he barked. Like, Mommy let me out. And I’m at her house. And I’m like, he deserves this. You know, so, you know, for Mommy to go to work and then come home. He’s always excited to see me. It’s like, oh my gosh, Mom, where have you been? And I just went and took a shower. 


MARGO: Oh my gosh, where have you been? 

LAURA STASSI: Oh my, I’m so glad to see you — so working a regular job and coming home, that’s boosting to me. 

MARGO: Yeah. So I’m looking forward to getting my dog a place to live.


Margo told me she’ll probably get a place in Indiana where she has family including kids and grandkids. And even though she’ll never get over Eric, she wants to give dating a shot.

MARGO: 31:56

Oh, yes. I still wear my wedding ring. Until Mr. Whoever decides to come along. He’s gonna have to replace them. Until then, they stay on.


You know, as a former dog owner myself, I’m pretty sure Xander is going to make sure Margo doesn’t recklessly share either her heart or their new home. 

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